With the boom of music, movies, and TV series from South Korea, it is no surprise that many people around the world are curious to see what the Asian nation is like. This has led to many travelers flying to the country to have their own K-Pop or K-Drama experience.
However, like any other country out there, there are customs and etiquette that travelers should abide by when visiting South Korea. No traveler should disrespect another country's culture, even if it's out of ignorance or excitement over seeing your favorite Korean idol or actor.
Here's what you have to keep in mind about South Korea's customs and etiquette during your visit.
How to Greet Other People
Like its neighboring countries, it is polite to bow when greeting other people in South Korea. While you do not have to bend low to do it, a short bow will do.
According to Visit Seoul, when performing a handshake in greeting, make sure it is done softly and both hands are used when doing so.
Avoid from leaving your chopsticks sticking up from your bowl of rice and even using it to eat your rice. It is common practice in South Korea to use a spoon instead. It is likewise common practice to leave your spoon and chopsticks in their original position where you initially found them.
Another thing to keep in mind is to avoid touching your food with your hands. An exception to this is when you wrap anything with cabbage.
Also, do not be in such a rush to eat, especially if you're not the oldest person at the table. Korean customs allow the oldest person to begin eating first, followed by everyone else.
Speaking of going out for drinks, believe it or not, it is not considered polite to pour your own drink when in South Korea. What you should do is pour someone else's drink for them, and they will do the same for you.
Make sure to do this with both hands as well.
Related Article: Five Things That First Time Travellers To Korea Must Know
When dining or going out for drinks in one of Korea's many restaurants, cafes, bars, and clubs, it is actually not customary to tip. However, you are not prohibited from offering one to a staff.
Just keep in mind that the staff may or may not opt to accept it at the end.
Blowing Your Noses
Another thing that is considered impolite in South Korea is to blow your nose in front of everyone. It is better to excuse yourself and head to somewhere private, like a restroom, to blow your nose.
Seats for the Pregnant, Elderly, and Handicapped
Both the buses as well as the trains in South Korea have allotted seats for pregnant women, the elderly, and persons with disabilities. When riding the bus, anyone can sit in these seats. However, once a pregnant woman, an elderly, or a person with disabilities boards the bus and is need of a seat, you should give up yours if you are seated in this specific area.
As for trains, it is common practice to not sit at all these in these special seats unless you are pregnant, an elderly, or have a disability.
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